Rowdy racism ruckus

2019-03-15 13:00
Pietermaritzburg magistrate Ashin Singh said at a meeting that Indians were being oppressed in South Africa.

Pietermaritzburg magistrate Ashin Singh said at a meeting that Indians were being oppressed in South Africa. (Clive Ndou)

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A public meeting protesting against “African racism” against Indians, whites and coloureds degenerated into a mud-slinging match amid criticism of a senior magistrate’s attack on blacks.

The meeting in Raisethorpe, which started off with about 100 people, later degenerated into chaos, with most of the crowd storming out in the middle of the event.

Senior magistrate Ashin Singh, who is also the convener of the South African Minority Rights Equality Movement (Samrem), which believes that black Africans are more racist than Afrikaners, told the crowd that Indians, whites and coloureds were being oppressed by the “racist” ANC government.

Lashing out at black Africans who live in informal settlements within Indian communities, Singh said they were part of an ANC plan to influence voting patterns. “When they are not happy with government they throw their shit at us,” he said.

He said of homeless black Africans on the streets of Northdale that “all they do is to shit and pee on our streets — it’s stinking.”

The South African government, Singh said, was granting only black students access to university education while blocking “intelligent” Indians.

Singh had taken to the podium at the Aryan Hall in Raisethorpe shortly after creating drama when he ordered security guards to remove some people from the venue.

A policeman, whom Singh described as a “spy” from the police intelligence, was kicked out of the meeting.

ANC Msunduzi councillor Mehmood Oumar (centre) was kicked out of the meeting by magistrate Ashin Singh. 

When ANC Msunduzi councillor Mehmood Oumar questioned the removal of the policeman, he too was kicked out. “You are dividing the community,” Oumar shouted as security guards hired by Samrem led him to the exit door. Singh was backed by Samrem chairperson Daleep Lutchman in removing the men. While some applauded Singh, others were outraged.

“It is very clear that you have taken a particular party political stance on issues and yet you are a magistrate. I’m sorry to say this to you — you are a magistrate but also a racist,” said Njabulo Mtolo.

When ANC Moses Mabhida Regional Task Team (RTT) member Mzi Thebolla attempted to speak after being invited to the podium by Lutchman, he was heckled. Thebolla denied that the ANC government’s economic redress policies amounted to racism.

“If you look at the policies carefully you will realise that they favour black Africans, Indians, coloureds and white females,” he said.

Community leader Jay Jugwanth, who described the manner in which Samrem leaders conducted themselves at the meeting as “shocking”, said the majority of Indians do not share Singh’s and Samrem’s views.

“What happened here can only be described as an utter disaster. Speakers who held views different from that of Samrem leaders were humiliated and heckled — this kind of behaviour has no place in our democracy,” he said.

Singh is no stranger to controversy. Last year he reluctantly recused himself from a case involving six men, including an ANC councillor, accused of murdering a Pietermaritzburg ANC activist. In its application for Singh’s removal from the case, the State claimed that the magistrate had an “interest” in the matter after he allegedly held a “private” meeting with a family member of two of the accused.

Speaking to The Witness after last night’s meeting, Singh denied that he was a racist, saying he is being persecuted for telling “the truth”.

Despite Lutchman confirming that Singh is Samrem’s convener, the magistrate denied holding any official position in the organisation. “I was only invited to deliver a speech,” he said.

He said he would soon be lodging a complaint with the United Nations about the SA government’s treatment of minority groups.

This article has been edited in line with a ruling by the Press Council of South Africa.

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